MISHPATIM — Often in life we look for the fireworks, the fun ride, the sparkling party, but it’s the everyday, the prosaic, that really creates the infrastructure for a solid life. Consider what happens in this week’s Torah portion. After the thunder, voices and lightning at Sinai in our last parsha, in this one we find law after law. Such a letdown after the terrifying excitement of Sinai! But what we find here are really the tenets of how to live a life– how to live with one another on a daily basis. For some examples: “You should not carry...Read More
MISHPATIM — We must carefully value our speech. Words are a powerful tool. They can bring people closer or they can distance them. They can hurt or they can heal. Whether we are speaking to a family member, a friend, a teacher, a neighbor, or a stranger, our words always have an impact. Even if the person we’re speaking to doesn’t seem to care, everyone is affected by our tone and manner of speaking. If we are often insulting or disrespectful, we become a problem both to others and to ourselves. This week our Torah portion emphasizes that the...Read More
TORAH PORTION: SHEMOT Sometimes we see things, whether at work or at school, and we know they are wrong. But the question for us is to decide when to intervene. We all make decisions regarding when it’s “just not our business” and when it would be wrong not to say something. But knowing which is which is difficult. If we see someone helpless being demeaned, it’s important to step in and help out. Whether acting discreetly or out in the open is a decision we will have to make in each situation. In our Torah parsha this week, Moses...Read More
VA-YIGASH — Children often embarrass each other in front of friends, causing great pain and shame. We, as parents, want to make them aware of how hurtful such behavior is. In Jewish thought embarrassing someone in public is considered a serious crime, akin to killing someone. Judaism is sensitive to how painful an experience humiliation can be. In fact, Joseph provides a good model for us in our biblical portion. Having been estranged and separated from his brothers for years, he vindicates his own painful experience at their hands by becoming a powerful Egyptian ruler. It has been many...Read More
VA-YIGASH — Young children are impulsive. They can’t really help it. They feel so intensely they blurt out whatever is on their minds, sometimes with love and sometimes in rage. It’s our job as parents to help them translate the intensity of their feelings into appropriate behavior. They might be angry, but they can’t mistreat their brother or sister, friend or parent. They need to find the right words to express what they are going through. They might want something belonging to a friend or sibling, but they can’t just grab it; they must ask for it respectfully. In...Read More
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